How to get by in college without breaking the bank

October 31, 2012

After living 18 years without having to worry about money for meals, housing, bills and other living necessities, some students struggle to manage their finances once they've entered higher education. It can be liberating to be able to buy whatever you feel like, however it's important to prioritize necessities over impulse spending. With that in mind, the blog Get Rich Slowly offers tips for college students to help them make sure they aren't constantly calling on their parents to replenish their bank accounts.

First and foremost, college students should remember to pay their bills on time. It's incredibly easy to let an errant utility bill slide down the priority list, but remember, interest and late feeds can add up very quickly and chip away at funds that could be used for money for college necessities like books. For the same reason, you may want to have an earnest discussion with yourself about how responsible you are when it comes to managing your own finances before applying for a credit card. Furthermore, never hand out your social security or credit card information to anyone you don't utterly trust.

The website also offers advice that could be used by anyone, not just college students. For example, monitoring your own spending, and following a set budget that only allows you to spend less than you make, may help avoid overspending.

Alternative methods for saving cash
A different online information provider,, published a list of less conventional tips more daring students could take to make their financial planning for college easier.

Dumpster diving, which involves visiting local eateries and picking up leftover, but untouched food out of dumpsters, may be considered the most controversial tip. It is illegal in some states, and technically, dumpster diving is literally eating out of the garbage. However, you'd be very surprised by the freshness and quality of food some shops have to throw away at the end of the day, mainly because they won't be able to charge full price for it in the morning. However, considering the legal and potential sanitation concerns, dumpster diving isn't recommended for anyone who isn't pretty much desperate.

Many other bits of advice on BeingFrugal are a bit more traditional and potentially less dangerous. Gasoline is expensive, and public transportation costs money, but biking is basically free. In addition, students should know that recycling beer and soda cans is a good way to pick up a couple of bucks.

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